The Quit Book: Beat the Smoking Addiction

The Quit Book: Beat the Smoking Addiction

HE Code: 
Booklet A5
Publication date: 
13 January 2010
Revision date: 
January 2019
Order free copies:
The Quit Book can help you quit. It contains the best advice we know on how to quit smoking – in 5 simple steps.

Where to go for help

If you can picture how much better your life will be as a non-smoker, then you’ve taken the first steps towards quitting. The next step is to get yourself some support – this will give you the best chance of success. Every year Quitline helps thousands of Kiwis beat their smoking addiction. So how can we help you?


Call us on 0800 778 778 or text us on 4006 as many times as you like. Many advisors are ex-smokers themselves and know what quitting is like. You'll make a plan to help you beat cravings and we’ll send you a free Quit Pack.

Quit Blogs

Check out Quitline’s website at to connect with 1000s of other people quitting on out blog and to see how much money you are saving with our ‘Quit Stats’ tool. When you sign up you’ll get your own personalized page.


Register by phone or online for our Txt2Quit service and we'll send you texts in English or Te Reo Māori to motivate you as you quit.

Nicotine patches, gum and lozenges 

can double your chances of successfully quitting. You can get them for $5 each when you order them from Quitline by phone or online. You can also get advise on other stop smoking medication options.


If you would like to talk to someone in person, Quitline can connect you with someone in your area. You can also get in touch with your local stop smoking service –

Pregnancy support

Quitline offers phone support specially designed to help pregnant women quit smoking. We’ll be there for you throughout your pregnancy and until baby is at least 6 weeks old. We can also talk to your partner/family about helping you to quit and making your home smoke-free. Call us – 0800 778 778 or text us on 4006.

You've decision to quit smoking CONGRATULATIONS!

Quitting smoking is a big step to take. It’s also one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.

  • You’ll save yourself thousands of dollars every year
  • You’ll be setting a great example for your family and friends
  • 50% of people who smoke regularly will die from a smoking-related disease. On average, people who smoke die 14 years earlier than non-smokers.

The Quit Book contains the best info we have on how to quit smoking. It will help as you get ready to quit, deal with your first days and weeks as a non-smoker and stay quit.

No one says quitting is easy, but every day, people show it can be done.

Kia kaha, stay strong, you can do it.

“It’s an incredibly uplifting feeling to be free of the ‘chains’ of the smoking addiction” - Quit Blogs


Congratulations on your decision to quit smoking!

Read on …

Step 1 Set a Quit date

Step 2 Know your reasons for quitting

  • Health benefits
  • Money savings
  • Your family and friends’ well-being
  • Smoking kills

Step 3 Know your triggers

  1. Addiction to nicotine
  2. Habits
  3. Emotions

Step 4 Use patches, gum or lozenges

  • Jamie’s story: QUITTING for the grandkids

Step 5 Stay Quit

  • Cravings
  • Stress
  • Social situations
  • Tips for quitting
  • Staying Quit

Q&A Questions and answers

  • Weight gain
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Diabetes
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Using nicotine patches, gum and lozenges
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Hinemoana’s story: QUITTING smoking, gaining freedom


Step 1 Set a Quit date

If you haven’t already quit, set yourself a Quit date. If it’s not today, try to choose a time when you don’t have any extra stress or pressures to deal with.

When you are ready to quit:

  • set a Quit date
  • tell your family, friends and co-workers that you plan to quit
  • be ready to cope with physical cravings by getting nicotine patches, gum or lozenges
  • know what will make you want to smoke (your triggers)
  • remove all your cigarettes, tobacco, ashtrays and lighters from your home, car and workplace.
My Quit date


Step 2 Know your reasons for quitting

Every smoker has their own reasons for quitting. Knowing your reasons can help you to stay motivated and give you the focus and determination to become a non-smoker.

What are your reasons for quitting?

You could:

  • write a list of them. You could start with your own health, saving money, having a good effect on family and friends.
  • pin the list up where you can see it or make a copy to keep with you.

Your list will help you in tough times.

Health benefits

Every hour, day, week, month and year that you go without smoking, your health will improve.

When you quit, your body starts to repair itself straightaway – you’ll notice the difference! Quitting is a great thing to do at any age – you’ll live longer, and your quality of life will improve.

  • 8 hours Your heartbeat slows down to normal, and your blood pressure goes down.
  • 24 hours Carbon monoxide is out of your system within a day, and your lungs work better.
  • 3–5 days Your senses of taste and smell begin to improve. The phlegm in your lungs loosens, and you start to cough it up and get rid of it.
  • 1–6 months You feel better and are able to exercise more easily. The blood flow (circulation) to your hands and feet improves. You produce less phlegm. If your blood pressure has been high, it is likely to fall.
  • 1 year You have almost halved your risk of sudden death from heart attack.
  • 5 years Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat and oesophagus is half that of a person who continues to smoke.
  • 10 years Your risk of lung cancer is less than half that of a person who continues to smoke.
  • 15 years Your risk of sudden death from heart attack is almost the same as that of a person who has never smoked.

Money savings

Smoking is an expensive habit. A pack a day costs around $10,000 a year (based on $30 for a packet of 20). Quit smoking and give yourself a pay rise! You’ll have more money to spend on things like groceries, bills or a special treat for you or your family.

How much does your smoking cost you now?

Cost of 1 packet x number of packets smoked per week = $ spent per week

For example: 1 packet @ $30 x 7 packets = $210 per week

The cost of your smoking per week $....... x ....... packets smoked = $.......... per week

If you multiply that by 52, that’s the cost of your smoking per year! For example: $30 x 7 x 52 = $10,920 per year.

We were probably smoking easily $10,000 a year between us. Easily. That’s really dumb. That’s over $100,000 in 10 years. That’s three deposits on three different houses. It’s been hard, but now we are smokefree and moving into our first home

Quitline client

Register with to:
  • get weekly emails showing how much money you’ve saved since your quit date by not smoking
  • see your own ‘Quit Stats’ every time you log in to the website.

Your family and friends’ well-being

If you smoke, your children are much more likely to get pneumonia and bronchitis when they are young and to develop asthma. Children of smokers are seven times more likely to become smokers themselves. You’ll be setting them a great example by quitting.

Smoking near your friends and their children puts them at risk too. Secondhand smoke contains all the same poisonous chemicals that smokers breathe into their bodies.

If you quit smoking, you’re likely to live longer. You’ll be healthier and more able to enjoy your family and friends and see the children grow up.

More benefits

Your appearance

  • Brighter and clearer skin. Smoking starves your skin of oxygen – it makes it dry and grey and gives you wrinkles.
  • Cleaner teeth and fingers – no more stains from the tar in cigarettes.

Your smell

  • Your hair and breath will smell cleaner. So will your house, car and clothes.

Lifestyle reasons

  • No more hassles about no-smoking rules on buses, trains or planes or in other smokefree places.
  • No more shivering outside on a cold winter’s day!


  • Exercise will be easier and more enjoyable and you’ll feel better.

Your senses

  • Your senses of smell and taste will be better.

Taking control

  • Quitting smoking is a challenge. Set yourself small goals along the way (for example, going for a short walk after lunch instead of having a cigarette).
  • You’ll feel really proud of yourself once you have set the goal to quit and then when you succeed.
  • You’ll be a stronger person and more able to take on other challenges.

Today, I am 47 days FREE of my nicotine drug addiction. I feel great, life at the moment can’t be much better. I love the feel of fresh air in my lungs, my clothes smell nice, and my kids are hugging me all the time ‘cos I don’t smell. Stopping smoking is the BEST thing I could have done, and for the first time in like ages, I feel FREE :)

Member of The Quit Group blog community,


Smoking kills

You will damage your health if you continue to smoke.

The harsh fact is that smoking kills one in every two regular smokers. If you smoke and don’t die from it, you will still be damaging your health. When you smoke, your body has to work hard to try to repair the damage done by over 4000 toxic chemicals.

About 4500–5000 New Zealanders die from smoking-related illness each year. These early deaths can be prevented.

Here’s how smoking affects your body

Smoking causes cancer

At least 69 of the chemicals in tobacco smoke are known to cause cancer.

Smoking-related cancers include: cancers of the lung, mouth, throat, oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, cervix and bone marrow (myeloid leukaemia).

Smoking damages your lungs

This damage is caused by the toxic gases in tobacco smoke – tar coats your lungs just like soot in a chimney. Your lungs get irritated by the smoke and make more phlegm. Over time, your small airways swell up and let less air into your lungs.

Chemicals from smoking get into your bloodstream

This slows your blood flow and affects your circulation. That’s why many smokers get cold fingers and toes!

Carbon monoxide robs your muscles, brain and body of oxygen. Every cigarette you smoke temporarily increases your heart rate and blood pressure and narrows the small blood vessels under your skin.


Smoking damages your heart and brain

Even worse, these chemical deposits slowly block your blood vessels, starving your tissues of oxygen. Blocked blood vessels in your heart or brain can disable or kill.

All cigarettes are toxic

You do the same amount of damage when you smoke milder cigarettes as you do from stronger ones – even though the filters on milder cigarettes dilute the smoke, you still inhale the same amount of chemicals.

Smoking sucked the life out of me. (Emphysema sufferer)


Step 3 Know your triggers

There will be certain things that will make you want to have a cigarette. It may be:

  • when you drink alcohol or coffee
  • when you feel stressed
  • when you are bored.

If you know your triggers, you make a plan to deal with them.

Smoking is an addiction with 3 parts. You may be triggered by:

1. Addiction to nicotine

Nicotine is one of the thousands of chemicals in cigarettes, but it’s not the nicotine that poisons you and damages your health – the other chemicals in cigarettes do that!

However, it’s the nicotine that is addictive. Not having nicotine causes most of the withdrawal symptoms that you will feel when you first stop.

We recommend that you try using nicotine patches, gum or lozenges (see step 4). These will reduce your withdrawal symptoms as you recover from smoking and will help you deal with physical craving triggers. They are safe to use.

2. Habits

Smoking at certain times builds habits. The time when you usually smoke can be strong triggers. (Check out the examples below.)

Habits also create needs or cravings  – you may think that you can’t do some things without having a cigarette or you may not notice that you always smoke at certain times.

What are your smoking habits?

3. Emotions

Emotions are big triggers too. You may smoke for comfort when sad, for relief when anxious, for something to do when bored, or instead of dealing with difficult feelings.

What emotions cause you to smoke?

Know your triggers and plan ahead!

  • Try patches, gum or lozenges to help with the physical addiction triggers (see step 4).
  • Get to know the habits and emotions that trigger you to smoke.
  • Make a plan to deal with these. Use the tear-out diary to do this.

Check out these examples:

Instead of smoking …

you could …

first thing in the morning:

  • try getting in the shower straight away
  • stay inside if you normally go outside for a smoke
  • get busy getting yourself or family ready for work

with coffee or tea:

  • change the drink – have a juice or herbal tea instead
  • have the drink in a place where you don’t usually smoke
  • have your drink at a time when you wouldn’t normally smoke

while talking on the phone:

  • doodle
  • make your home smokefree and stay indoors
  • use a stress ball to keep your other hand busy

after eating or a meal:

  • get straight up from the table and do the washing up
  • go for a walk
  • brush your teeth
  • make your home smokefree, then stay indoors after your meal

in the car:

  • make your car smokefree
  • have a bottle of water with you
  • have some chewing gum or mints in the glove box
  • clean the car out so that it doesn’t smell of smoke and trigger you to want a cigarette

when drinking and/or socialising:

  • avoid alcohol until you feel more confident – alcohol can tempt you to smoke or make you forget why you don’t want to smoke any more
  • stay inside or in other non-smoking areas
  • let people know that you have quit – and ask them not to offer you cigarettes
  • remind yourself of the good things about not smoking
  • have an escape plan if things get too much

when feeling stressed:

  • talk to a friend
  • exercise
  • use a stress ball

when feeling bored:

  • take up a new activity
  • play with your children or play sport with friends
  • get busy – tidy a room, the house, the garage or the car
  • join a gym
  • take the dog for a walk
  • do some volunteer or community work.


Step 4 Stop Smoking medicines

Using medicines for 8–12 weeks doubles your chances of quitting. They are much safer than smoking – they can reduce your cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms without damaging your health. It’s important to investigate the options and find what works for you.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Nicotine is the addictive part of tobacco – but it doesn’t damage your health like the other chemicals in cigarettes. The nicotine you usually get from cigarettes can be replaced via patches, gum, lozenges, inhaler, or mouth spray. Serious side effects from using these are uncommon.

You can order subsidised patches, gum and lozenges at or via your doctor. Otherwise, all NRT products (including the inhaler and mouth spray) can be purchased over the counter from supermarkets or pharmacies for the normal retail price.

Some medical conditions require specialist advice on using nicotine patches, gum or lozenges. Please call the Quitline (phone 0800 778 778) for advice on next steps if you:

  • are pregnant
  • are a diabetic on insulin
  • are taking medication for a mental health condition
  • weigh less than 45kg (7 stone)
  • have had a heart attack, stroke or severe angina in the last two weeks.

See also the questions and answers section for more information.

Jamie’s story – QUITTING for the grandkids

I was watching a movie with my granddaughters, and a wedding scene came on. I turned to my oldest one and told her that I’d dance with her at her wedding, Jamie remembers fondly. “No you won’t, Papa,” she told me. “You smoke, you’ll be dead by then.”

That was it – that was my motivation, Jamie explains. At that point, I decided to quit – so I can be there to dance with my granddaughter at her wedding.

Shortly after I’d made the decision to quit, my wife had to go into hospital. She was a smoker too, so they gave her information about quitting and the Quitline number – and when we got home, I called Quitline. They were great, Jamie recalls.

Jamie began smoking at the age of 11 because it seemed natural, everyone was doing it and was soon smoking 40 a day. But when he made up his mind to quit, he simply took it step by step.

At the start, the idea of quitting for life freaked me out. Everything I had done in my teenage and adult life involved smoking.

Initially, I just took it an hour at a time. Then a day at a time. Now I have reached the stage where I can say I’m a non-smoker, Jamie says proudly.

The people on the blog understand. They’ve all been there, and their stories are so inspiring. You can ask anything you need and remain as anonymous as you like. There are no stupid questions, and they helped me realise there is no normal quit journey – it can be different for everyone, Jamie explains. I still visit the blog twice a day and offer whatever advice and support I can.

Quitline were really helpful too, Jamie adds. I still use their 4D technique [see step 5] and I always have a water bottle nearby. I used patches for a while too.

Despite the odd craving, Jamie never looks back. I didn’t realise how much smoking was controlling my life. I always had to plan for cigarettes – did I have enough, could I buy them wherever I was going?

Quitting has given me so much life back. I’ve saved $3,600 so far, and I’m more sociable as well.

I’m confident I won’t smoke again – I quit so I can be there for my granddaughters. I won’t be going back.


Step 5 Stay Quit


You may sometimes get strong cravings to smoke – even years after quitting. This is normal – it doesn’t mean that you are failing.

These cravings may happen when you meet up with old smoking buddies or when you are in a situation where you used to smoke.

If you experience cravings, remember the 4Ds


Pause instead of acting on the urge to smoke. Don’t open a pack or light a cigarette. After a few minutes, the urge to smoke will pass.

Deep breathe

Take a long, slow breath in and then breathe out slowly. Repeat three times.

Do something else

Take your mind off smoking by taking action – put on some music, go for a walk, ring a friend or keep your hands busy.

Drink water

Sip water slowly, holding it in your mouth for a few moments to enjoy the taste and freshness.


A lot of people feel anxious and panicky about life without cigarettes. You may be used to lighting up when you feel stressed (for example, when you’re stuck in traffic, things have gone wrong, or you’ve had an argument) or when you feel bored or want ‘time out’.

When you quit, you need to find new ways to deal with stress, habits and emotions (see step 3). The good news is that there are lots of ways to do this.

If you’re feeling stressed, you might like to:

  • talk to someone close to you – perhaps an ex-smoker
  • visit the Quit blogs (
  • listen to music
  • squeeze a stress ball
  • say a karakia, a prayer or positive words
  • scream or shout (warn people first!)
  • buy yourself something with some of the money you’ve saved by not smoking
  • go for a walk
  • read a good book
  • take a hot bath
  • play a game outside with your family
  • remind yourself of the reasons you want to quit.

Social situations

For many people, alcohol and social situations are a trigger for smoking.

Drinking alcohol can tempt you to smoke or to forget why you don’t want to smoke any more. It’s best to avoid it until you feel stronger.

To help you beat smoking cravings in social situations, see the ideas on page 22.

Tips for quitting

Here are some more of the best tips we know for quitting and staying quit. You may be able to add to this list. Your top tips are those that work best for you. Enjoy your new smokefree life!

  • Change your routines and habits.
  • Try nicotine patches, gum, lozenges or other stop smoking medicines.
  • Avoid situations that make you want to smoke.
  • Try to reduce some of the stresses in your life.
  • Make your home smokefree and get rid of ashtrays.
  • Wash all your ‘smoky’ clothes and furnishings.
  • Clean your car and keep it smokefree.
  • Cut down on alcohol.
  • Brush your teeth with a fresh minty toothpaste.
  • Book into your dentist to have your teeth cleaned.
  • Do things you enjoy – give yourself treats.
  • Keep a water bottle handy.
  • Phone a friend for support.
  • Take time out for yourself.
  • Put up a list of the reasons you quit where you will see it often.
  • Plan what you will do if you are around smokers (for example, chew on gum).
  • Practise saying ‘I don’t smoke’, ‘I am a nonsmoker’ or ‘I’m not smoking anymore’.
  • Tell yourself it doesn’t matter what other people think.
  • Spend time with non-smokers or ex-smokers.
  • Go for a walk when you are stressed or upset.
  • Reward yourself or your family with a treat from some of the money you’ve saved.
  • Remember the 4Ds if you get cravings:
    • Delay
    • Deep breathe
    • Do something else
    • Drink water.
  • Keep yourself busy.
  • Learn about relaxation – it’s about ‘letting go’.
  • Check out the tools at
    • Sign up for Txt2Quit
    • Get support from others on the Quit blogs
  • Call the Quitline 0800 778 778.


I have made it for 365 days smokefree. Here are my stats:

1 year, 38 minutes, 52 seconds quit, 10,950 cigs not smoked.

I’ve saved $7,105.28 by not smoking and I’ve saved 1 month, 1 week, and 30 minutes of my life. Well, what can I say except it’s a lovely place to be.

Member of The Quit Group blog community,

Staying Quit

You may have been feeling very confident about quitting – but suddenly, you feel very tempted!

There are warning signs:

  • You start thinking ‘Just one will be okay’.
  • You’re missing smoking and ask yourself: Is quitting worth the effort?
  • You take puffs of other people’s cigarettes.

Remember that ‘just one’ WILL hurt

Having ‘just one’ cigarette is the way most people start smoking again. Quitting means resisting the urge to smoke even one cigarette, despite the cravings, the habit, the pressure and your own emotional reasons.

  • Remember that every craving lasts only a few minutes. Do the 4Ds.
  • Remind yourself how far you have come – you don’t want to have to go through all that again.
  • Remind yourself of your reasons for quitting – read your list when you have cravings or write it out again.
  • Reward yourself for staying quit.
  • Think about what you can do to enjoy life without cigarettes.
  • Use the calculator to work out how much money you have saved or check your quit stats.

But if you do slip up … remember, that’s all it is: a slip-up. One cigarette doesn’t make you a smoker again. Don’t use it as an excuse to go back to smoking.

Trying to quit again

So you’ve started smoking again – it’s not the end of the world. In fact, many people stumble on their way to being a non-smoker.

Perhaps you:

  • were triggered by another smoker
  • had a crisis in your life
  • quit when the time wasn’t right
  • stopped without knowing what it would feel like
  • still think of yourself as a ‘smoker’
  • thought your craving was a real need
  • thought it would be okay to have ‘just one’
  • stopped using your nicotine patches, gum, lozenges or other stop smoking medicines too soon.

You will have your own reasons for slipping up. It doesn’t mean that you’ve failed and you might as well keep on smoking.

It’s important to remember that quitting is a journey. Most people try more than once to quit smoking. It’s the same as learning any new skill – you learn from mistakes and keep on going.

Think about why you wanted to quit in the first place. Those reasons are still good ones (see the form on page 36.)

Work out what triggered you to start smoking again. What could you do next time this happens? (See page 13 -14.)

Try out some of the other free tools available to help you quit. (See inside cover.)

You’ve stopped before – you can stop again. Believe in yourself. You can cope with the challenges and change your behaviour. Yes, it may be hard work – but you’ve done other hard things before.

Kia kaha, stay strong, you can do it.

Questions and Answers

Weight gain

If I quit smoking, will I put on weight?

Not necessarily, although you might notice that your appetite increases and food tastes better. Concentrate on quitting smoking first, and if you gain a little weight, you can lose it later. Research suggests that you are likely to lose any weight gain when your body adjusts to being a non-smoker. Remember you’ll also feel better and may enjoy exercising more.

I heard that smoking raises your metabolism, which is what makes you lose weight. Is this true?

Smoking does increase the rate of your metabolism, but the effect on your weight is very small and smoking actually puts a strain on your heart. Your metabolic rate will return to normal when you quit.

Why do I crave sweet things now that I’ve quit smoking?

Cigarettes are deliberately sweetened. They contain sugar, and they stimulate the release of your body’s own sugar reserves. For the first few days after quitting, you might experience low bloodsugar levels. Instead of reaching for sugary treats, you could try fruit or sugar-free chewing gum.

What can I do to make sure that I don’t put on weight?

When you are quitting, you may find that you replace some of your hand-to-mouth smoking behaviour with hand-to-mouth eating behaviour. Part of quitting is to change some of your habits and routines. If you used to smoke after a meal, choose something else to do instead:

  • Clean your teeth
  • Drink water
  • Eat a piece of fruit, carrot sticks or celery sticks
  • Go for a walk
  • Phone a friend
  • Do the dishes
  • Chew sugar-free gum.

If you’re still worried about gaining weight, it could help to talk to a doctor and make a healthy eating and exercise plan. Be kind to yourself.

If the way you look is important to you, remember that smoking harms your appearance. It starves your skin of oxygen and makes it dry and grey. You develop wrinkles around your eyes and mouth much earlier than a non-smoker. The tar stains your teeth and fingers.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

What help is available for pregnant women to quit smoking?

Quitline offers support specially designed to help pregnant women quit smoking. Quitline Advisors will be there for you throughout your pregnancy and until baby is at least six weeks old. If you like, an Advisor will also talk to your partner/family/whānau about helping you to quit and making your home smokefree.

How does smoking while I’m pregnant affect my baby?

When you smoke, the poisons in tobacco go into you and your baby. Every puff you take increases the carbon monoxide poison in your bloodstream and affects your baby’s blood supply. If you smoke while you are pregnant:

  • your baby gets less oxygen and nourishment
  • your baby’s heart beats too fast (so does yours)
  • your baby’s chest muscles don’t have enough oxygen to exercise properly to get ready for breathing after birth.

You are also more likely to lose your unborn baby (miscarry).

How will smoking while I am pregnant affect my baby’s health?

A smoker’s baby is more likely to:

  • be stressed during labour, leading to a complicated birth
  • have a low birth weight, making health problems more likely (smaller babies do not mean a shorter or easier labour
  • die at, or shortly after, birth
  • die of cot death, or SUDI (sudden unexpected death in infancy)
  • have coughs, colds and other breathing problems
  •  get ear infections
  • develop asthma.

I’ve been smoking since the start of my pregnancy, so will it do any good to quit now?

Absolutely. It is better to quit before the pregnancy, but quitting partway through your pregnancy will still help your baby’s growth and health.

It’s never too late to quit for your baby.

Can I start smoking again when my baby is born?

When baby is born its important to stay smokefree. The first six weeks is a time many women find challenging. Remember how well you've done in quitting smoking. Even if you don't smoke around baby, poisonous toxins from cigarettes will stay in your clothes and hair. Baby will be exposed to these. See Section Secondhand Smoke  pages 28-29 for more information.

Whether you are a smoker or non-smoker, breastfeeding is best for your baby's health.

Can I still use nicotine patches, gum or lozenges if I’m pregnant?

Yes. Please call the Quitline (0800 778 778) to order these.


How does smoking affect my diabetes?

Smoking raises your blood glucose level, making it harder to control your diabetes. If you are a diabetic and smoke, your risk of having a heart attack becomes even higher. Other risks for diabetics that are made worse by smoking are:

  • circulation problems that can lead to foot ulcers, foot infections, blood vessel disease in the legs, and foot and leg amputations
  • eye problems that can lead to blindness
  • kidney disease
  • joint and nerve damage
  • gum disease.

Secondhand smoke

What is secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke is the smoke from other people’s cigarettes, pipes or cigars. The smoke comes directly from the burning end of a cigarette as well as the smoke being breathed out by the smoker.

Secondhand smoke contains all the same poisonous chemicals that smokers breathe into their bodies.

How does secondhand smoke affect people?

Heart attacks

About 1200 people go to hospital each year with heart disease (mainly serious heart attacks) because harmful chemicals in secondhand smoke have affected their blood, heart and circulation.


About 500 people go to hospital each year with strokes caused by secondhand smoke. The smoke seems to cause narrowing of the blood vessels in the brain and clotting of the blood. (A stroke results from a rupture or clot in a blood vessel in the brain, affecting movement and speech.)

Childhood illnesses

Children exposed to secondhand smoke:

  • are at higher risk of pneumonia, bronchiolitis and croup in their first 18 months
  • are more likely to develop asthma
  • can have more severe asthma attacks and have them more often. Secondhand smoke causes about 15,000 asthma attacks in children under 16 – particularly for preschoolers.
  • can get glue ear (fluid build-up in the middle ear area) and ear infections. Every year, 1500 young children have ear operations because their ears are damaged by secondhand smoke. Untreated ear problems can lead to deafness and learning difficulties.

Children and teenagers whose parents and/or caregivers smoke are seven times more likely to become smokers themselves.

What should I do about secondhand smoke?

Make your home and car smokefree. If people want to smoke in your home, ask them to go outside. Don’t let anyone smoke around your children.

Using nicotine patches, gum and lozenges

How long should I use nicotine patches, gum, lozenges or other stop smoking medicines?

Quitline recommends that you stay on NRT for at least eight weeks. This is based on the New Zealand Ministry of Health’s current Smoking Cessation Guidelines ( Research shows that people who use more than one NRT product and people who stay on NRT for more than eight weeks are more likely to be successful in their quit journey.

The nicotine products are designed to reduce physical cravings for nicotine and help you to create a smokefree lifestyle for yourself. Most people find that eight weeks is a good amount of time to create new habits, routines and ways of coping with emotions.

If you are nearing the end of your supply of patches, gum or lozenges and would like to continue using them, please call Quitline or order more online – we’ll be happy to help you. Remember that it takes 5–7 working days for a new Quit Card to get out to you, so do make sure you call us a week or 10 days before you are due to run out of products.

Do patches cause nightmares?

Some people have vivid dreams when they wear the patches overnight. If you do have vivid dreams and find them disturbing, try taking your patch off an hour before you go to sleep. It can help to establish a new morning routine around putting on your new patch. Jump straight in the shower, perhaps, then put the patch on your clean dry skin.

Disturbed sleep is also a common recovery symptom. Recovery symptoms are the way your body reacts when it stops getting nicotine and the other chemicals in tobacco smoke. Your body is adjusting. These feelings will pass as your system settles down. Deep breathing and relaxation exercise can help.

How should I use patches?

It’s important to make sure that you put the patch on a clean, dry and hairless area of skin. Make sure that you don’t have any perfumes or lotions on because they can cause a rash.

It’s also important to make sure that you put the patches on different parts of the body every day. If you put the patch in the same place too often, it may irritate the skin more. The patches are waterproof, so you can wear them in the shower and while exercising and swimming.

If you find that the patches don’t stick very well to your skin, try using surgical tape or plasters over the top to hold them down. Experiment to find the places that suit you best (for example, if you sit a lot, the buttocks can be a good spot). Some women find that under a bra strap works well.

How do I use nicotine gum?

Chew and park

Use the ‘chew and park’ method with nicotine gum. When you have that persistent craving, bite down on the gum a couple of times and then park it under your tongue or between your cheek and your gum. This way, the nicotine gets absorbed through your mouth lining and gets to your brain.

If you over-chew the gum or drink while it’s in your mouth, the nicotine gets washed to your stomach and can’t do its work. You can also get an upset stomach and hiccups. Chew and park the gum about 5 or 6 times in a 30-minute period, then wrap it up and throw it away.

How do I use nicotine lozenges?

Suck and park

Use the ‘suck and park’ method with the lozenges. When you put the lozenge in your mouth, suck it a couple of times to release the nicotine and then place it under your tongue or between your cheek and your gum and rest it there. The nicotine gets absorbed through your mouth lining.

If you over-suck the lozenge and treat it like a normal sweet, you end up swallowing the nicotine. The nicotine will pass through your system without getting to your brain. Swallowing the nicotine can also give you an upset stomach and hiccups.

Using the lozenge correctly may help to reduce the amount of taste you get on your tongue.

Are there any side effects from patches, gum, or lozenges?

Some people find their skin is easily irritated by the patches – sometimes it’s from the nicotine itself, sometimes it’s from the adhesive on the patch, or it may be that you have other products on your skin. Depending on what is causing the irritation for you, there may be something we can recommend. Call one of our advisors on 0800 778 778 to discuss this further.

Withdrawal symptoms

What sort of withdrawal symptoms might I get when I quit smoking?

We like to call them recovery symptoms. Some recovery symptoms that you may experience when quitting are:

  • cravings
  • headaches
  • upset digestion (nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, sore throat)
  • restlessness and difficulty concentrating or sleeping
  • coughing
  • feelings of irritability, anger, sadness, depression or anxiety
  • wanting to eat more
  • tingling fingers.

Will these symptoms pass?

Yes! These symptoms range in severity and duration depending on each individual. They are a sign that your body is adjusting and coming back into balance. You can see your doctor to discuss subsidised prescription medicines such as nortriptyline or bupropion that reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. These medicines have been shown to double the chances of stopping smoking.

Hinemoana’s story – QUITTING smoking, gaining freedom

Writer-musician Hinemoana Baker (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toarangatira, Te Āti Awa, Ngāi Tahu) was a young teenager when she started smoking.

It was my mum who gave me my first cigarettes. She smoked menthols, and we thought they were better for us. I can remember going home from school at lunchtime and having one, says Hinemoana, shaking her head.

By age 19, while travelling overseas, her habit had escalated to 20–25 cigarettes per day. I was constantly getting really bad headaches and getting sick. I was young and stupid and didn’t put it all together.

When she returned to New Zealand, she studied Māori. She began to think about giving up smoking. On an integrity level, for me, it felt wrong to be learning our language and customs with a cigarette in my mouth.

In addition, Hinemoana had begun performing and teaching and felt a responsibility to be a good role model. I didn’t want to be slowly self-destructing. Māori are over-represented in smoking stats, and I didn’t want to be a statistic. It was a combo of that and deteriorating health – I had lots of flus and coughs.

The key for me was realising that I wasn’t ever going to be able to have “just one”. I felt really free once I’d made that decision.

She says that the feeling of being separated from smoking mates passed. It’s a temporary thing; the cravings pass, and then you can be around whoever you like. It’s not the smoking that makes you feel close to people.

It’s now 12 years since Hinemoana quit smoking, but she still feels a lot of empathy for smokers. I can completely relate to what they’re going through.

I’ve seen the huge damage smoking has done, and it’s heartbreaking. While Hinemoana’s mother gave up smoking 30 years ago, she has had two major heart surgeries and is preparing for a third. She wouldn’t be around at all if she’d carried on smoking, we know that.

Hinemoana, who now works part-time in the health sector, believes people have to be ready to quit smoking, but that doesn’t mean it won’t feel uncomfortable or difficult in the short term. The hard times don’t last, but the benefits last forever.


Get to know the situations and emotions that make you crave cigarettes. When you know what these are, you can make a plan to do something different during these times.

With cup of coffee at 7 am Stressed Have a shower
I’ve had an argument Angry Tell someone how I feel

Use this diary to help you understand your triggers so that you can begin to control your cravings.

Here is how to use it:

1. Tear out the diary and pin it up where you can see it or keep it with you.

2. Every time you have a craving, think about what you’re doing and how you feel about it.

3. Do something else to take your mind off it and make sure to record this in your diary.

If you’re in a situation when you can’t write down your craving, think about the steps above and then make sure to make note of it later for future reference. As you work out the links between your cravings and behaviour, you’ll find that you will actively avoid smoking without even having to think about it.

You can print off more diary pages at




Quitting smoking is one of the best decisions you can make for your health, your bank balance and the wellbeing of your family. Knowing your personal reasons to quit can help you stay motivated.

Pin this list up where you can see it or keep it with you to remind yourself of why you want to be a non-smoker.

Kia kaha, stay strong, you can do it.



0800 778 778 or text 4006

Quitline is managed by Homecare Medical as part of the national telehealth services. Quitline is committed to helping all New Zealanders quit smoking, with a particular focus on Māori, Pacific peoples and pregnant women. The free services are funded by the Ministry of Health.

The Quit Book was originally developed by The Quit Group in January 1999 and has been significantly revised over time.

ISBN 978-0-478-41163-8 (print)

ISBN 978-0-478-41164-5 (online)